Skip to main content

Thoreau Indigenous American Notebooks Collection

Identifier: MsC0795

  • Staff Only
  • Please navigate to collection organization to place requests.

Scope and Contents

In writing his book Thoreau and the Indigenous American (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977), Robert F. Sayre assembled a group of research materials that are worthy of preservation in their own right. The materials are of three kinds: (1) photocopies of the eleven original Thoreau notebooks held by the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City, as M.A. numbers 596 through 606; (2) photocopies of typed and edited transcripts of each of the notebooks, most done as part of a 1930s project centered at Columbia University, New York City, principally supervised by Mary Dobbie, with some sections presented as thesis work to that institution; and (3) bibliographic and related notes generated by Sayre himself. Further information about the use to which these materials can be found in Thoreau and the American Indians (Main PS 3057.I5S2 1977), particularly in the introduction and postscript notes.   The photocopied notebooks are described here as Series I. They contain a record of Thoreau's systematic reading about Indigenous Americans. Each opening appears on one sheet, and the sheets for each notebook have been placed in a binder. The binders are numbered 2 to 12. Notes in the collection indicate there was (and may still be) some confusion in the numbering: the eleven notebooks were with a twelfth notebook labeled "Canada & c." which turns out to be unrelated. It was originally numbered "1".   The second series is composed of the Columbia transcripts followed by Sayre's notecards.


  • Creation: 1850-1970


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.


11.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Photocopies of Thoreau notebooks held by the Pierpont Morgan Library; transcripts of the notebooks made in the 1930s. The collection was assembled by Robert F. Sayre in writing his book Thoreau and the American Indians (1977).

Method of Acquisition

These papers were given to the University of Iowa Libraries by Robert F. Sayre in 2005.

Related Materials

Sayre, Robert F. Thoreau and the American Indians. Main Library: PS3057 I5 S2 1977.

Processing Information

This finding aid was revised in 2023 to address racist/sexist/euphemistic/oppressive, outdated, and/or harmful descriptive language. During that revision, description was changed in the collection title, scope and contents note, citation note, along with subject headings linked to the finding aid.

Sid Huttner, Jacque Roethler, 2005. Reparative description-Jenna Silver 2023.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)